The Hungry Bachelors Club

on November 12, 1999 by Luisa F. Ribeiro
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   Intended as a succulent dish spiced with equal parts quirkiness and homeyness, "The Hungry Bachelors Club" starts out appetizing enough, but ends as a bland mishmash of conflicting ingredients.
   Central to this goulash is Delmar Youngblood (Jorja Fox, best known for her recurring role on television's "ER"), unhappy in her pressure-cooker job as an insurance adjuster. She is a young single mother raising a son while dreaming of using her culinary skills to open a restaurant with her best friend, the romantically conflicted Hortense (Suzanne Mara). Hovering in the girls' orbit are Delmar's anthropologist brother, Jethro, obsessed with vintage Cadillacs; his buddy, good old boy Marlon, who only has eyes for Hortense; and Delmar's mother Hannibal, whose kookiness extends to a series of colorful turbans and a mysteriously wealthy gentleman caller. These supposed misfits are joined by Moses (Bill Nunn in the most well-rounded performance in the film), who is discovered by Jethro and Marlon one night in a car graveyard.
   Adapted from a novel by Lynn Scott Myers, the script by Fred Dresch and Ron Ratliff unevenly works in devices unusually focused on motherhood: Delmar's leap at surrogate motherhood, a mother-fixated Southerner, a drug-addled woman whose mother dies unexpectedly at one of Delmar's dinner parties and other foolishness such as a disturbingly stereotyped Arab as Delmar's ex and a silly exercise in Mayan funeral rites.
   Of the many problems with "Hungry Bachelors Club," primary is the stunted development of almost all of the characters (who are not nearly as unique or unusual as intended) and the numerous plot threads that dribble off into nothing of consequence. Clearly hoping to recreate the food-as-social-bonder spirit so delectably done in "Fried Green Tomatoes" a few years back, "Hungry Bachelors Club" (the inevitable and inexplicable name of Delmar's restaurant, as everyone is romantically paired up by that stage) leaves one starved for something more substantial.    Starring Jorja Fox, Bill Nunn and Suzanne Mara. Directed by Gregory Ruzzin. Written by Fred Dresch and Ron Ratliff. Produced by Dan Gifford and Amy Sommer. A Mama's Boys release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic elements. Running time: 91 min.
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